Week 4: Naomi’s Harvest of Hope – Ruth Chapter 2, verse 17 to Chapter 3, verse 5

Week 4: Naomi’s Harvest of Hope – Ruth Chapter 2, verse 17 to Chapter 3, verse 5


Read Ruth Chapter 2: 17 to Chapter 3: 5. Take turns in your group reading through this passage. After you have done the reading, look over the discussions below and decide which ones to have in your group (you can discuss them all if you have time). 


Discussion 1. Ruth 2:17 states that Ruth gleaned an ephah of barley, which is about 22 litres. To put this in perspective, this would have been about half of one month’s pay for a male harvester, which Ruth has gleaned in one day! How does Naomi respond in verse 19? Ruth then tells Naomi about Boaz. What is Naomi’s reaction in verse 20 when she hears Boaz’ name? How does this contrast with Naomi’s perspective back in chapter 1, verses 20 and 21? 

Naomi’s words in chapter 2, verse 20 contain a purposeful ambiguity: “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness (hesed) has not forsaken the living or the dead.” Does the word whose refer to God, or to Boaz, or to both? The last time the word hesed appeared was back in chapter 1, verse 8, where Naomi says to Ruth and Orpah, “May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.” 

Could Naomi be saying that her eyes have been opened to God’s hesed (loving-kindness) always being with her, first through Ruth, and now through Boaz?


Discussion 2. Look at Naomi’s reference to the “living and the dead” in 2: 20. Who are the dead to whom she refers? Although there is no indication that Israelites in Ruth and Naomi’s time had knowledge of a coming resurrection of the dead, why was God’s faithfulness to the dead important? How did they understand the meaning of God’s hesed to the dead, and how did God fulfill his promises to the dead? (Hint: how was God’s promise to Abraham to be fulfilled? See Genesis 15: 2-5.) 


Read Mark 12: 18-27. The practice the Sadducees refer to in verse 19 is called levirate marriage, from the Latin word levir, “husband’s brother”. Jesus is teaching that the purpose of levirate marriage, which was intended to keep a dead man’s legacy alive through offspring if he died childless, is ultimately fulfilled in the resurrection. God will ultimately show his faithfulness to each person, regardless of their sex, by raising us from the dead.


Discussion 3. In Ruth 2:20 Naomi tells Ruth that Boaz is a close relative, one of their redeemers. Read Leviticus 25: 23-28. This law refers to the “kinsman-redeemer”, who is the nearest relative of a man who is forced to sell his land due to financial hardship. Naomi is referring to Boaz as such a relative, and this is new information for Ruth. Naomi sees in Boaz someone who may redeem Elimelech’s land.

Naomi mentions that Boaz will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor (Ruth 3:2). Naomi directs Ruth to no longer dress as a widow, but to attire herself for the threshing floor celebration.  She is to hide her presence from Boaz until the celebration is over and he lies down to sleep in the darkness. She is then to approach him, uncover his feet, and lie down by him. Naomi then directs Ruth to do what Boaz tells her to do.

What does Naomi mean when she says that she is seeking “rest” for Ruth (refer back to Ruth 1:9)? To what does the phrase “that it may be well with you” refer? (For a hint, read Deuteronomy 6: 1-3). What does Naomi seem to be proposing for Ruth and Boaz?

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